A 21-year-old mountain biker from Nepal, Rajesh Magar has become one of National Geographic’s 2018 Adventurers of the Year.
This year, NatGeo was honoring trailblazers in the adventure community. These adventurers embody the spirit of bold innovation and were taking leaps forward in their field. They’re pushing boundaries, smashing stereotypes, and overcoming obstacles. The adventurers were helping lead the world in a new, important, and thrilling direction.
In order to find the Adventurers of the Year, NatGeo had asked photographers, writers, filmmakers, and athletes to tell them who was inspiring them to reach further, go higher, and dream bigger. Out of that group, a panel of National Geographic Adventure staff voted to narrow it down to eight honorees.
And the great jubilance to all Nepalese – Rajesh Magar was one of those selected honorees.
Nepal is not exactly renowned for its mountain bikers. But in the corner of the Himalayas, the hardcore sport is on the rise—and 21-year-old Rajesh Magar is in the lead. Magar started racing on a “Franken-bike” he built himself. And now, he is one of Asia’s top mountain bikers, poised to make a name on the world stage.
“He’s not just a fast Nepali,” said Joey Schusler, a mountain biker, and filmmaker who nominated Magar for the honor. “He’s truly a professional.”
Though Magar’s parents are from Solukhumbu, he and his sister were born and raised in Kathmandu. He grew up lending a hand to his father, a bricklayer, and his mother, a housekeeper.
Magar was quoted in National Geographic as saying, “I used to ask my mum repeatedly to buy a bicycle. She then would give me hope, saying right now we don’t have any money, but she would buy me one when we do.”
When he was about 10 years old, an employer of his mother’s gave him a BMX bike. Even though he didn’t know how to ride, he threw himself into practice. Eventually, Magar bought a rigid mountain bike from a friend at school.
He did not only taught himself some serious biking but also started thinking about modifying his bike. Magar then sketched modifications, found spare parts and talked a neighbor through how to weld everything together properly. He swapped in a softer motorcycle suspension, adjusted the head angle, replaced the sprocket, and fit in some nicer cranks that became Franken-bike.
It was Magar’s first racing bike. He then rode the Franken-bike in his first ever race, the 2013 Nepal National Championship, where he finished on the sixth position.
He continued participating in different biking races and got better in each race. In 2014, Mandil Pradhan came across Magar getting in some practice on a trail outside Kathmandu a few days before the Nationals. Pradhan, a racer, bike distributor, and owner of bike tour company Himalayan Rides, was amazed by his talent and loaned him a high-quality bike to compete on. When Magar came in fourth place despite riding a new bike with a chain that broke midway through the course, Pradhan offered him a job.
Out of school, with a good job, riding top-of-the-line bikes, Rajesh Magar—with Pradhan’s mentorship—has been able to attract more sponsors. Last year, he won his third consecutive National title. He has also snagged trophies from downhill races in India, Singapore, Thailand, and China.
Rajesh Magar has made us all proud and we wish him all the very best for his future adventures.
News and Featured Image Source: National Geographic